UPDATED – Disability discrimination. The DLA Piper tribunal decision cannot be appealed

blindfolded justice statue

This is an update to a recent post I made here:

https://wirralinittogether.wordpress.com/2014/06/09/wirral-council-wins-in-court-vulnerable-people-lose-again/

Near to the end of the blog post, I promised to contact the Judge, Melanie Carter, to highlight some concerns and to see if her decision could be challenged.  Here’s the exchange that followed:

From: Paul Cardin
Sent: 13 June 2014 00:47
To: Melanie Carter
Subject: Wirral Council ruling

Dear Judge Carter,

I do hope you don’t mind me contacting you ‘out of the blue’ but I would like to raise an important concern regarding a recent ruling you made in a case involving Wirral Council and the ICO, a link to which is here .

I’m the person who made the original freedom of information request in February 2012, although I was not a joined party to the case.  I was quite surprised to see the recent judgment describe the contents of most of the withheld information as follows:

“particularly anodyne and insofar as it contained anything of substance, did not, on the face of it, contain anything of particular public interest which might otherwise call for disclosure”

My initial concerns were centred upon:

  • financial abuse, which took the form of an unlawful removal of £736,756.91 over 8 years from the bank accounts of a number of learning disabled Wirral Council tenants
  • a subsequent admission to ‘unacceptable’ abuse of learning disabled people, made by Councillor Steve Foulkes, the portfolio holder for Social Services (now Mayor of Wirral) (See 7.1 here)
  • a subsequent complaint to my local MP, Angela Eagle, followed by confirmation of disability discrimination on the part of the council – given by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission in early 2011,
  • a seeming desire on the part of the authorities at the time to ignore the EHRC finding, by not exploring the potential extent of it as requested, and by distancing themselves from the notion of disability discrimination

I am now even more concerned after reading the above excerpt from the judgment, that your First Tier Information Tribunal may not have gained access to all of the relevant correspondence.

For important contextual material, this link explains more of the background to the case.  Further material is also accessible at the contained links.

In addition to this, I have since uncovered incontrovertible proof of what appears to be a conflict of interest, in that (R E D A C T E D).  Without evidently ever being asked to do so, they duly arrived at the opposite finding to the EHRC in the final section of the AKA Associates full report (which remains redacted in many areas to this day, two years on). 

I feel a major injustice may have been done, and would appreciate it very much if you could possibly ask an assistant to examine this material and advise on what I might be able to do to in taking steps to challenge or appeal this ruling,

Best regards,

Paul Cardin

Judge Melanie Carter’s response:

From: Melanie Carter
Sent: 13 June 2014 08:04
To: Paul C
Subject: Re: Wirral Council ruling

Dear Mr Cardin

Thank you for your email. I am afraid all Tribunal correspondence does need to go through the Tribunal channels. I have passed this to our Tribunal office who will be in touch hopefully soon. 

Regards

Melanie Carter 

Sent from my iPhone

Melanie Carter

Partner
Head of Public & Regulatory
Bates Wells Braithwaite

This was followed a few days later by an email from the Registrar of the General Regulatory Chamber:

From: GRC@hmcts.gsi.gov.uk [mailto:grc@hmcts.gsi.gov.uk]
Sent: 16 June 2014 12:31
To: ‘info@easyvirtualassistance.co.uk’
Subject: EA/2013/0235; Wirral Borough Council v IC

Dear Mr Cardin,

I am the registrar for the First-tier Tribunal General Regulatory Chamber.  Part of my role is to assist with queries from appellants, respondents and other persons who contact the Tribunal.  Judge Carter asked me to respond to the email you sent to her.

The effect of the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007, section 11 and this Tribunal’s rules is that only a party in a case can appeal against a decision of the First-tier Tribunal.  You were not joined in the proceedings, which have now finished.  Therefore, you are unable to appeal.  

The Information Commissioner was a party to the appeal – he is always the first respondent when someone appeals against a notice that he issues.  I see that you are concerned that not all of the relevant information was provided to the Tribunal when they made their decision.  It may be that, if you contact the Information Commissioner’s Office and explain your concern, his office will be able to assist you in some way.  The Tribunal, however, is not able to take your query further.

Yours sincerely,

Mrs R Worth

Registrar, General Regulatory Chamber

I am not authorised to bind the Ministry of Justice contractually, nor to make representations or other statements which may bind the Ministry of Justice in any way via electronic means.

[Message ends]

I’ll be contacting the ICO again soon…watch this space.

2nd July 2014

The ICO solicitor dealing with this case is Richard Bailey.  Here’s my email to him, sent today:

 

From: Paul C
Sent: 02 July 2014 12:15
To: ‘Richard Bailey’
Subject: RE: Wirral BC v Information Commissioner EA/2013/0235

Dear Mr Bailey,

Since this judgment was reached recently, there have been further developments, which are described at the following link.  I’ve linked here for your convenience and to avoid having to explain all of the circumstances in detail again:

https://wirralinittogether.wordpress.com/2014/06/30/disability-discrimination-the-dla-piper-court-decision-cannot-be-appealed/

I appreciate that although I made the original FoI request,  I was not a joined party to the appeal.  However, in line with the Registrar for the General Regulatory Chamber’s advice, would request that you look at all these issues again and look to appeal against the decision as it appears that not all relevant evidence was placed before the judge at the hearing – potentially by persons unknown to me and presumably to yourself.

I have attached the full, unredacted, version of an email I sent to Judge Melanie Carter recently.  This explains an apparent conflict of interest which I presume was not declared to the judge on the day of the hearing.

Please advise me of any time limits that may apply to such an appeal.  I look forward to hearing from you,

Best regards,

Paul Cardin

It’s now Friday 4th July.  I’ve heard nothing yet, the option to return a read receipt was not taken up, and I’ve sent him a reminder today:

From: Paul C [mailto:info@easyvirtualassistance.co.uk]
Sent: 04 July 2014 14:09
To: ‘Richard Bailey’
Subject: FW: Wirral BC v Information Commissioner EA/2013/0235

Dear Mr Bailey,

I’d appreciate an acknowledgment of the email below when you have the time,

Many thanks,

Paul Cardin

Response now in:

From: Richard Bailey
Sent: 04 July 2014 14:11
To: Paul C
Subject: RE: Wirral BC v Information Commissioner EA/2013/0235

Dear Mr Cardin,

Thank you for your email. I acknowledge receipt of the email below. Due to being out of the office and a heavy workload, I have not yet had time to consider it. I hope to be able to reply at some point next week.

Yours Sincerely,

Mr Richard Bailey

Solicitor

Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF.
T.  F.  www.ico.org.uk
 
 

8th July 2014

Richard Bailey came back to me today:

From: Richard Bailey [mailto:Richard.Bailey@ico.org.uk]
Sent: 08 July 2014 14:53
To: Paul C
Subject: RE: Wirral BC v Information Commissioner EA/2013/0235

Dear Mr Cardin,

I write further to your email below.

The Commissioner is satisfied that the Tribunal had all the relevant material on which to makes its decision and will not be appealing the decision.

I am sorry that I am unable to assist further.

Yours Sincerely,

Richard Bailey                 Solicitor

Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF.

T.  F.  www.ico.org.uk

I’ve updated Judge Carter…

From: Paul C
Sent: 08 July 2014 20:36
To: M Carter
Cc: ‘richard.bailey@ico.org.uk’
Subject: FW: Wirral BC v Information Commissioner EA/2013/0235

Dear Judge Carter,

With reference to the Wirral Council / DLA Piper case I recently contacted you about, I’d like to thank you for your assistance.  The registrar for the First-tier Tribunal General Regulatory Chamber suggested I should make enquiries with the ICO solicitor.

I did contact him, however, he would not appeal on my behalf, and replied today, stating he was content that ‘all relevant material’ had been placed before your tribunal.  This is patently an insult, and I believe the tribunal has been cleverly hoodwinked.

In case you haven’t yet read it, I’ll link you to a précis of the sordid, long occulted truth of this situation:

https://wirralinittogether.wordpress.com/2014/06/09/wirral-council-wins-in-court-vulnerable-people-lose-again/

With the backdrop of vile paedophilia engaged in by occupants of the nation’s ‘most respected’/ prominent institutions, I’m left to ponder….  since when did the disabled people of this country become relegated to the absolute lowest of the low – and apparently not even worthy of yours and your colleagues’ statutory protection?

Best regards,

Paul Cardin

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About Wirral In It Together

Campaigner for open government. Wants senior public servants to be honest and courageous. It IS possible!
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5 Responses to UPDATED – Disability discrimination. The DLA Piper tribunal decision cannot be appealed

  1. John Brace says:

    The Registrar is only partially correct. Section 11 of the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 in subsection (2) states “Any party to a case has a right of appeal, subject to subsection (8)”, subsection (8) states “The Lord Chancellor may by order make provision for a person to be treated as being, or to be treated as not being, a party to a case for the purposes of subsection (2)”

    The current Lord Chancellor is the Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP and has a legal duty to be “responsible for the efficient functioning and independence of the courts”. His contact details are here, which include as well as his contact details:

    House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA
    Tel: 020 7219 8194
    Fax: 020 7219 1763
    graylingc@parliament.uk

    the contact details of the Ministry of Justice too:
    Ministry of Justice, 102 Petty France, London, SW1H 9AJ
    Tel: 020 3334 3555
    general.queries@justice.gsi.gov.uk

    You may also wish to contact your own MP about this. Personally I think it would be wrong for an FOI requester not to have a right of appeal to a first tier tribunal decision about their FOI request. Hopefully if you explain what’s happened either the Lord Chancellor himself can add you as a party (so that you have a right of appeal), point you in the direction of an order that means you are treated as a party or give a proper explanation as to why not!

  2. John Brace says:

    Oh I got a letter back from the First-Tier Tribunal (Information Rights) yesterday. Although appeals made to First-Tier Tribunal decisions can be made to the Upper Tribunal (which is a court), the first-tier tribunal isn’t a court. So you might want to change your headline from “court decision” to “tribunal decision” to be more accurate. 🙂

    However the First-Tier Tribunal (Information Rights) did say that the tribunal was subject to the FOI legislation and data protection legislation.

    Doesn’t that mean you could make a subject access request or FOI request for the “closed” bundle (or even the open bundle)?

    • Wirral In It Together says:

      Have amended thanks John. I may give that a try after I’ve had a response from the ICO solicitor.

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